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Bad loans continue to hurt banks’ profits

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INHIBITION Key lenders made provision for $1.2bn loan to Etisalat

 

Banks in the country seem to have defied the sluggish economy by generally beating forecasts in their 2017 half year earnings. However, findings by New Telegraph show that the lenders could have posted better performances but for rising non-performing loans (NPLs), which continue to take a huge bite out of their profits.

An analysis of 2017 half year results announced by lenders revealed that despite grappling with the issue for several years, most lenders still recorded increased bad debts during the period under review. For instance, Zenith Bank reported a 198 per cent increase in its H1 2017 impairment charges/write back from N14.2 billion in 2016 to N42.4 billion in the current period.

It was followed by Stanbic IBTC Holdings, which announced that its loan loss provision increased by 65.1 per cent from N8.45 billion in H1 2016 to N13.95 billion in H1 2017, while Ecobank Nigeria’s loan loss provision rose by 62.4 per cent to N42 billion ($138 million) from N25.99 billion ($85 million) in H1 2016. Also, Wema Bank’s loans loss provision in H1 2017 significantly increased by 43.7 per cent to N88 million from N61 million in H1 2016. Also, United Bank for Africa booked a 38.4 per cent increase in bad debts to N9.4 billion from N6.8 billion recorded in H1 2016.

At N10.4 billion in the first half of this year, Access Bank’s NPLs increased by 1.5 per cent from N10.2 billion in the same period last year, while Diamond Bank’s loan loss provision rose by 6.9 per cent to N20.3 billion, from N18.99 billion in H1 2016. However, First Bank of Nigeria Holdings’ loan loss dropped by 13.6 per cent to N60.4 billion from N69.9 billion in the corresponding period. Again, both FCMB and Union Bank of Nigeria’s provision for bad loans fell by 26.1 per cent and 38.8 per cent to N9.97 billion (N13.5 billion in 2016H1) and N5.4 billion (8.8 billion in 2016H1) in H1 2017, respectively.

Likewise, Guaranty Trust Bank recorded a significant 81 per cent drop in impairment charges to N7.2 billion in the first six months of this year, from N37.5 billion in the corresponding period of 2016. Investigations by this newspaper indicated that the provision that some banks, which were part of a consortium that provided a $1.2 billion loan to 9mobile, the mobile operator, formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria, made for the facility, was responsible for the sharp increase in their NPLs.

In fact, the Managing Director/ CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Peter Amangbo, had revealed that his bank made a provision on 30 per cent on its loan to the telecoms company. His counterpart at Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, also recently disclosed that the Tier 1 lender booked a N4 billion impairment on its loan to 9mobile. He said the lender had a direct exposure of N11 billion to 9mobile, as well as an exposure of N35 billion-N39 billion to the telecoms firm’s suppliers.

Wigwe noted that Access Bank hoped to recover the debt once 9mobile was sold to new investors. In a chat with journalists earlier this year, the Managing Director, Agusto & Co., Vivian Shobo, projected higher double digit non-performing loans in the Nigerian banking system of 12.5 per cent in 2017 from 7.5 per cent in 2016. She said:

“The macro affects the micro and banking systems usually will reflect what is happening in the macro-economic environment. The macro-economic environment has affected the banking industry on two fronts – asset quality and earnings. Asset quality has deteriorated with delinquent oil and gas, power and general commerce loans. “Agusto & Co is projecting higher double digit non-performing loans in the banking system – 12.5 per cent in 2017 from 7.5 per cent 2016.

Loan losses will impair earning by up to 30 per cent. We believe that capital will be adequate for most of the banks. However, some banks will need to raise capital, to buffer the capital eroded from loan losses. Inflation has also affected the operating cost of financial institutions. As a result, we are expecting higher cost to income ratios. There will be liquidity constraints for some players due to the implementation of the TSA, while other players with large retail networks will not be as affected as those with smaller branch networks.

” In fact, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Financial Stability Report (FSR), the NPL ratio of Nigerian banks rose to a five-year high of 14 per cent at the end of December 2016, the worst ratio recorded by the country’s lenders since 2012 when the NPL ratio was just 3.7 per cent. The data showed that the NPL ratio more than doubled its December 2015 level of 5.3 per cent.

NPL ratio indicates the average level of bad loans on the books of banks. It is a key indicator of the health of the financial industry as the higher it is, the more likely that a bank will run into solvency challenges. The CBN blamed the deterioration in asset quality to the rising inflationary trend, negative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and the depreciation of the naira. Interestingly, with the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) firmly ruling out the possibility of its resuming the purchase of banks’ NPLs, some lenders have come up with new strategies to deal with the problem.

For instance, the Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), Mr. Ade Ayeyemi, told journalists a few months ago, that he expected the pan-African lender to be back in the black this year, after it decided to absorb NPLs from its Nigerian unit – Ecobank Nigeria – through a “bad bank,” to enable it compete.

Ayeyemi said the bank planned to raise $400 million via a convertible bond issue, adding that $200 million of the cash raised would repay funds used to set up a “bad bank” to resolve NPLs. In its financial statement for 2016, the management of ETI had explained that as part of a clear and well defined non-performing loan strategy,

loans with a book value of N52 billion or $263 million were transferred to a separate entity referred to as resolution vehicle during the fourth quarter of 2016. The pan-Africa bank said: “The establishment of the resolution vehicle will help to effectively manage capital, enhance a quick turnaround of our business in Nigeria and help to improve transparency of the non-performing loans portfolio in Nigeria.”

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Stock market opens week bearish

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Trading activities on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) market yesterday opened this week on  the negative territory as the overall performance measures, NSE ASI and market capitalisation, both fell by 1.53 per cent.

 

The downswing according to market watchers, was due to profit taking by investors after recent bullish rally.

 

Consequently, the All-Share Index dropped by 651.09 basis points or 1.53 per cent from 42,638.83 index points last Friday to close at 41,987.74, while the market capitalisation of equities depreciated by N234 billion or 1.53 per cent to close at N15.067 trillion from N15.301 trillion.

 

Further analysis of the day’s trading showed that Linkage Assurance Plc topped the day’s gainers’ table with 9.09 per cent to close at 96 kobo per share, while Livestock Feeds Plc followed with five per cent to close at N1.05 per share. Fidson Healthcare Plc added 4.92 per cent to close at N4.69 per share.

 

On the flip side, PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc led the losers’ chart with a dip of 8 per cent to close at N23.00 per share. Lasaco Insurance Plc shed 6.06 per cent to close at 31 kobo per share. Enamelwa Nigeria Plc followed with 4.95 per cent to close at 22 kobo per share.

 

Market turnover closed negative as volume moved down by -64.80 per cent as against +32.62 per cent uptick recorded in the previous session. Skye Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc and FCMB Plc were the most active stocks that boosted market turnover while Zenith Bank Plc and Guinness Nigeria Plc topped market value list.

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Nigeria mulls 700,000 barrels daily oil output surge

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…envisages 250,000 barrels from local producers

 

Nigeria is planning an increase of 700,000 barrels a day in her oil production. Data from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources sighted by New Telegraph showed that indigenous producers from the country aim to pump almost 250,000 barrels per day additional crude by 2020 as part of a wider plan for the nation to lift output to 2.5 million a day.

“We are on course,” Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, who confirmed the data, said in Abuja last weekend, just as he intimated newsmen of the goal to pump 2.5 million barrels a day by 2020. “Capacity-wise, the volumes are there. Infrastructure-wise we suffer a little bit in terms of being able to deliver.”

There are at least a dozen small to mid-sized Nigerian producers pumping between 5,000 and 100,000 barrels each day. Together, they plan to add incremental supply of at least 150,000 barrels a day this year. Aiteo E & P Ltd., Nigeria’s largest independent, didn’t immediately comment about its expansion plans. Shoreline Group, the third-biggest independent, the data showed, wants to double output by December with Seplat Petroleum Development Company, the second-largest, also intending to produce more.

” In all, the country’s total planned increase, a report adapted from the data showed, is 700,000 barrels a day. “Just over a third will come from the state-run Nigeria Petroleum Development Co., a third from independents, and the remainder from oil majors.

The expansion depends, among other things, on peace being maintained in the Niger Delta. A militant group said last month it would attack oil and gas facilities,” the data adapted by Bloomberg showed. “One probability is at least some of the extra Nigerian supply will end up feeding the Dangote oil refinery, the continent’s largest, which is due to start operating next year. While doing that would help rid Nigeria of its dependence on fuels produced overseas, it wouldn’t extricate the country from its commitments to OPEC.

“Back in 2016, Shoreline had to cancel a planned $500 million Eurobond. With oil prices rallying, the company is making a comeback. It agreed a $530 million deal with financiers led by Vitol Group, the world’s biggest independent oil trader, as it seeks to double crude output to 100,000 barrels a day by year end.

“It represents a massive vote of confidence in the future growth of our operations and of Nigerian upstream producers,” Kola Karim, chief executive officer of Shoreline, said in an interview.

“Shoreline’s progress mirrors that of other Nigerian independents.Seplat, said to be among companies bidding for Petroleo Brasileiro SA’s African oilfields, expects to ramp up drilling this year after output recovered from militant attacks and low prices, according to company statements,” the report said. Half a decade ago, these producers were hailed as the future of Nigeria’s production because of their potential to pump 40 percent of the OPEC member’s output. They had bought oilfields that hold at least a third of the West African nation’s 37.5 billion barrels of crude reserves from companies including Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA, and Eni SpA. Their day may still come.

The OPEC deal is currently in place until the end of this year and global demand is rising fast. The International Energy Agency this month revised up its growth estimate for world oil consumption by 100,000 barrels a day, taking it up to 1.4 million.

“As the oil market rebalances in the years ahead, OPEC will have to lift its production cap,” Pabina Yinkere, an energy analyst at Lagos-based Vetiva Capital Management, said by phone, adding that a lot of extra Nigerian crude could be used to feed the Dangote refinery.

“Moves to raise production are in view of expected demand growth.” The oil producers in Nigeria are planning to add barrels at the same time as Nigeria participates in a global pact to restrict oil supply that’s being led by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-member nations including Russia. If any one country relents – and similar internal pressures are bubbling up elsewhere – then the entire deal could come under strain.

“If they can pump more in Nigeria, I don’t see why they wouldn’t,” Warren Patterson, a commodity strategist at ING Bank NV, said. “If you get Nigeria exceeding the cap, then you’re going to get others who pump a little bit more. The longer the deal goes on for, the more likely it’s going to fall apart.”

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2018: Experts predict vibrant real estate

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As oil prices stabilise at 17 per cent higher than 2017 average and direct foreign investment increases, experts see surge in real estate activities in 2018. DAYO AYEYEMI reports

 

Following improvement in the economy, things are beginning to look up in Nigeria’s real estate sector with market operators getting set to tap into the opportunities, which exist in various segments of the market.

They were, however, particular about the low and middle income residential, millennial and student accommodation sections. Apparently equipped with the dynamism of happenings in the economy, they stated that investors (both local and foreign) were prepared to launch into pockets of opportunities in real estate market. Investors’ hope has been further boosted by the latest Bismack Rewane-led Financial Derivative Company (FDC)’s report on review of third quarter of 2017, which showed that Foreign Capital Inflows (FCI) to Nigeria increased by 148 per cent to $4.15 billion.

This positive trend, analysts said, happened as a result of renewed investor confidence in the economy. Also, the experts noted that oil prices had climbed to 17 per cent higher than 2017 average, expressing confidence that if the situation persists, oil revenues might help mitigate consequences of capital flight.

Current development

This newspaper gathered that while some developers are entering into Joint Ventures (JV) with the government to provide affordable housing units for citizens, others are currently repackaging their products to attract financiers and buyers.

In exclusive neighbourhoods such as Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Lekki, where landlords can no longer wait without getting tenants and buyers for their dormant properties, they have been converting their vacant houses to smaller apartments such as one-bedroom, studio and condos to attract people in need of smaller accommodation. This innovation by landlords, according to experts, has caught the attention of working-class singles who want to live very close to their workplaces.

Experts’ view

Taking a look at what 2018 holds for the sector, experts, which comprised developers, institutional investors, mortgage providers, media practitioners, property consultants and brokers at Fine and Country West Africa’s investors series, agreed that the outlook was bright and promising for real estate, hinging their prediction on improved economic climate. According to them, the economy has started looking up with pockets of opportunities emerging in the residential segment of the market.

They observed that low to middle income market remained strong all through the recession period while the upper market struggled. “But developers are adopting creative ways of dealing with the persisting challenge with a view to stimulating demand and sustaining their business,” they said.

Setting the pace, Sales Consultant, Fine and Country in Lagos, Mr. David Mba, said that he saw a more vibrant residential market coming as a result of an improved economy in 2018, adding that what were considered challenges in the past have become opportunities. According to him, developers in their bid to share risk and also raise more capital were going into joint ventures, citing Brains and Hammers Limited’s example.

“Only recently, Brains and Hammers Limited, one of Nigeria’s leading real estate and infrastructure development companies, entered into a joint venture agreement with Lagos State Government,” he said. This move, he explained, is believed to be the company’s response to pressing demands from its clients who wanted to acquire property in Lagos.

He said: “The move will see the company developing 750 housing units, comprising 132-tower units and 618 units that will be part of the Jubilee Estate development in Iganmu area of Lagos.

“The Phase 1 of the project comprises 129 units made up of 12 units of 2-bedrooms, 24 units of 4-bedrooms terrace and 93 other units. There are also twin towers made up of 132 units, comprising 60 units of one bedroom, 24 units of two bedroom, and 24 units of 3-bedroom maisonette.”

Other market trends, Mba said, included increase in demand for good value three or four bedroom apartments in Ikoyi precincts, selling within the range of N120 million to N150 million; increase in demand for houses including terraces, semi and fully detached units. Publisher/CEO, BusinessDay, Frank Aigbogun, is of the view that improvement in the economy means increased business activities that will in turn trigger more demand for real estate products such as commercial office, retail and residential buildings.

Fine & Country’s CEO/Vice Chair, Udo Okonjo, stated that the sector’s positive outlook would come with opportunities for only investors who are ready to understand that the market had changed.

From market survey, she stated that there would be opportunities across various segments of the real estate’s market including residential, commercial office and retail. “Lifestyle communities are the new face of residential real estate.

These communities have the advantages of economies of scale and security,” the Fine and Country’s CEO said. She hinted that opportunity currently existed in millennial and student housing, adding that many investors were tapping into these areas.

Dean, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Lagos, Professor Timothy Nubi, confirmed that many investors had already taken position around the university campus and were delivering one-bedroom self-contained apartments for N500,000 per annum.

In a bid to maximise the value of their property, a recent Northcourt Real Estate report 2018 outlook, noted that land owners looked more favourable to joint ventures with developers.

This newspaper also discovered that many developers and investors have been taking advantage of the ongoing construction of Dangote Refinery in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos to acquire more lands in the axis for housing estate development.

Last line

As the business investment climate gets betters, necessary actions must be taken by the government to improve ease of doing business in the country.

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